The signing of MoUs on tourism and sport during South Korean first Lady Kim Jung-sook’s visit to India this week will strengthen bilateral cooperation and lead to a wide range of exchanges between the two countries, South Korean culture, sports and tourism minister Do Jonghwan has said.
The two MoUs dovetail with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to enhance India’s relations with Asia-Pacific countries under the ‘Act East’ policy and President Moon Jae-in’s moves to boost bilateral relations under the ‘New Southern Policy’ that aims to bring Korea-India diplomatic ties up to the same level as those with the four major powers surrounding the Korean Peninsula (China, Japan, Russia and the United States).
“Our bilateral relations have thus far focused on economic cooperation, but it is necessary to advance them further in the fields of tourism and people-to-people exchanges,” Do said in an interview ahead of his arrival in India with the First Lady.
“The MoU on tourism cooperation aims to encourage Korean and Indian citizens to travel to each other’s countries and promote cooperation and direct communication between stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality industries,” he added. It specifies exchange of information and data related to tourism, cooperation between hotels, establishing exchange programmes for cooperation in human resources development, sharing experience in promotion, marketing and destination development and management, and participating in travel fairs and exhibitions.
“The sports cooperation MoU includes the exchange of coaches, athletes and experts, as well as scientific and methodical materials, and the implementation of joint training programmes,” Do said. It will also encourage practical exchanges in “elite sports, sports for all, sports for the disabled, sports science, anti-doping, taekwondo, kabaddi and other athletic events”, he added.
On November 6, First Lady Kim Jung-sook will participate in the Uttar Pradesh government’s Deepotsav celebrations on the eve of Diwali and will attend the ground-breaking ceremony for Queen Huh Memorial Park in Ayodhya, Do said. She will also meet Modi and attend a luncheon hosted by her Indian counterpart Savita Kovind on Monday.
“The First Lady will attend the Diwali festival as the guest of honour,” Do said. He added that Indian films and K-pop culture share a lot in common, and there had been brisk cultural exchanges since the first Korean Cultural Center in Southwest Asia was opened in New Delhi in 2012. Since 2015, the Asia Culture Center and the Indian Cultural Centre in Seoul have jointly organised the India Culture Festival, featuring traditional performances, and an event for the International Day of Yoga.
In July, President Moon gave a direction for advancing bilateral relations “anchored in the Three Ps Plus programme (people, prosperity, peace plus future)” and the two governments agreed to reinforce “future-oriented cooperation by increasing people-to-people exchanges, expanding substantive cooperation for mutual prosperity, engaging in close coordination for peace and security in the region, and working together to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution”, he added.